Parsha Pearls: Parshas Haazinu

Don’t Sit With Your Hands Folded!
Zionism is Idolatry

And He will say, where are their gods, the rock in which they trusted, who ate the fat of their offerings, and drank the wine of their libations? Let them arise and help you, and be a shield to you! (32:37-38)

The Torah is predicting that in the last days of the exile, the Jewish people will be worshipping idols, and G-d will say, “Why should I help you? Let your idols save you!” Then they will repent and see that G-d is the only one Who controls the world, they will cast away their idols, and G-d will redeem them.

Similarly, in Parshas Nitzavim it says that the last generation of Jews, as well as gentiles, will see the destroyed Holy Land and say, “Why has Hashem done this to this land? Why was this great anger aroused? And they will say, because they left the covenant of Hashem, G-d of their fathers…and they went and worshipped other gods and bowed to them, gods that they did not know.” (29:23-25)

In Parshas Vayeilech as well, it states, “And I shall surely hide My face on that day, because of all the evil that they did, turning after other gods… And evil will befall you at the end of days, when you do what is evil in the eyes of Hashem, to anger Him with the work of your hands.” (31:18,29)

Thus all the past three parshiyos contain predictions that the Jews will worship idols in the end of days. Yet we know that the Talmud says (Yuma 69b) that G-d took the inclination for idol worship out of the world 2300 years ago, in answer to the prayers of the Jews, and that since then it has been unheard of among the Jewish people. How then will this prediction be fulfilled? The answer is that “avodah zarah” or “other gods” does not mean only the worship of statues – it means any denial of G-d’s control over the world and attribution of that control to other forces or entities. In that context Zionism, with its claim that the Jewish people are in exile only because of their own weakness and can redeem themselves on their own initiative and with their own power, is a form of idolatry.

Indeed, we find that several gedolim characterized Zionism as idolatry. The Brisker Rav said, “Two things are certain: 1) Zionism is idolatry, and 2) every Jew living in Eretz Yisroel stumbles in Zionism.” (Uvdos Vehanhagos Leveis Brisk, v. 4 p. 197)

His father, Reb Chaim Soloveitchik, made a similar statement. Rabbi Refoel Zalman Levine, son of “the Malach” Reb Chaim Avraham Dov Ber Levine, related that he was with his father in Minsk on Lag Baomer 1917 when the Zionists were making a “flower day” to benefit their Jewish National Fund. Whoever gave some money received a little flower to hang on their clothing. Reb Refoel Zalman came to his father’s house with a flower on his shirt. The Malach was at that moment in the middle of his prayers, but he stopped right away and admonished his son about the evil of Zionism. Reb Refoel Zalman argued that there were some rabbis who belonged to the Mizrachi, and they debated the issue for a while. That afternoon, Reb Refoel Zalman was walking in the street when he saw his father coming toward him together with another man whom he did not recognize. “Say hello to the world-renowned gaon, the Brisker Rav,” said his father. Only then did he realize with trepidation that he was standing before Reb Chaim. His father turned to Reb Chaim and said, “This is my son. He has a question to ask you.” Reb Chaim said to Reb Refoel Zalman, “Ask your father, he can answer questions.” The Malach said, “No, from me he won’t accept the answer.” Reb Chaim said, “You’ll go home and explain it a little better and then he’ll accept it.” The Malach said, “This is a question related to emunah.” Reb Chaim stopped in the middle of the street and said, “What is your question?” Reb Refoel Zalman managed to stammer out the question. At that point they happened to be standing on Novominsker Street at the corner of Perhavsky Street, and there was a big church there. Reb Chaim looked up and then said, “If you have an extra six-coin to throw out for idolatry, better give it to this idolatry [he pointed to the church] and not there [the Zionists] because this idolatry is less defiled than the other.” (Mishkenos Haro’im, p. 270)


Rabbi Chaim Brisker